Three years ago, I listened to an inspiring interview with actress Ellen Burstyn on the podcast, Death, Sex, and Money. In it, she speaks on topics like love, men, and some more controversial topics like abortion and gender equality. It’s a captivating conversation that I highly recommend giving a listen to, but there was one particular part that stood out to me. A concept I’ve adopted into my life and peacefully thanked Ellen Burstyn for, for three years now.
The Shouldless Day
Speaking about how much she enjoys working and how she manages to unwind, Burstyn introduces an intriguing concept:
“I have what I like to call ‘shouldless days’" she laughs, “A day where there’s nothing I should do, so I only do what I want to do. If it’s a nap in the afternoon and watching TV and eating ice cream, I get to do it.”
She explains that this day is important for slowing down but also helps her reshape the way she looks at herself. Burstyn goes on to say she has a wiring in her brain that calls her lazy if she’s not doing something, “You’re so lazy” it says. This sounded all too familiar to me.
“That wiring is there, I haven’t been able to get rid of it,” Burstyn continues, “but what I can do is that I can put another wire in there. I can put in the shouldless days. When that voice goes off….I can say “NO. This is a shouldless day.”
I woke up one Sunday morning unmotivated by the mental to do list I was already going over. Exhausted by the thought of even getting out of bed, I deemed that day a shouldless day. I stayed in bed till noon with my dog, watching reruns of The Office, and laughing until my stomach hurt. I ordered two smoothie bowls. Yes, I wanted two different flavors. And I loved them! The rest of the day was spent worry-free and simple. I never realized how much my “shoulds” were weighing me down. Now I make sure to write my shouldless days into my calendar, because a day of doing exactly what I want, is like a breath of fresh air.
Seriously, try it.